AI and Robotics Ventures (ARV), a wholly owned technology subsidiary of PTT Exploration and Production Plc (PTTEP), has launched Horrus, Thailand’s first fully automated drone solution, which could address the current shortage of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) pilots.
“We see a shortage of highly sought-after experienced UAV pilots with high employment costs. Horrus will help address this pain point while tapping into a huge market opportunity in the drone segment,” Thana Slanvetpan, general manager for ARV, said via a virtual news conference.
He said Horrus marks a key step in the country’s drone industry, under which drones can be automatically deployed and repeat missions through the control system without the need for UAV pilots.
Pakpoom Kriengkomol, the robotic team lead of ARV, said the Horrus system comprises a 4-blade unmanned drone that can fly continuously for 30 minutes on a single charge, a remote-control base, and a ground station that serves as a base for flight commands and battery charging.
Horrus users will be able to pre-program flight missions through a remote control, then a drone will be automatically dispatched to carry out and complete the programmed mission at a designated location. After completing the mission, the drone will fly back to the ground control station — located within a radius of six kilometres — for recharging.
The ground control station is also equipped with a processing unit to upload and transfer photos and video taken by drone cameras to users or even live broadcast the location for real-time viewing via an internet connection.
Mr Thana said ARV is currently piloting the Horrus system at the PTTEP Technology and Innovation Centre in the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation. The system is expected to be commercially available early next year.
The related equipment is competitively priced, up to 30-50% cheaper than imports.
Potential uses include energy exploration and production, construction sites, industrial estates, renewable energy and solar farming, telecommunication, agriculture, transportation, and public utility as well as stockpiling survey and security observation.
Additionally, ARV is now exploring uses in social welfare and environmental care activities, such as coastal security, disaster relief efforts, forest fire detection as well as natural resource exploration.
Skyller, an ARV business unit, is currently developing fire-fighting drone technology which helps first responders detect and extinguish forest fires, with plans for an official launch soon.
According to Mr Thana, ARV will continue to focus on artificial intelligence, robotics and deep tech in cybersecurity, cryptocurrency, blockchain and healthcare.
“We see ARV’s potential to become a unicorn in the future,” he added.